author of many novels and short stories; won the Nobel Prize for Literature
in 1994. Excels in creating rich environments around very personal stories. Many of his works deal with his relationship to his brain damaged
Oe was born in 1935 in Oose, a village on the island of Shikoku. At seventeen, he left to attend the University of Tokyo and essentially had to relearn Japanese because of his regional dialect. He began to write in order to express his frustration at being displaced from his home; his first novel, Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids, won the Akutagawa Prize in 1958. He continued to write about experiences from his life and his view on Japan's place in the global community in the early 60s.
He married Yakari Itumi (sister of Juzo Itumi) in 1960, and in 1963 she gave birth to a son, Hikari, with a congenital skull deformity; doctors advised them to let the baby die. They refused, and the operation to save Hikari's life left him permanently brain damaged. Oe's next novel, A Personal Matter dealt with this experience and became his most widely known book.
Oe has continued to write about his son (often referred to as Eeyore in his books), and about real life events, including a 1995 nerve gas attack in Tokyo which killed twelve. He briefly ceased writing to assist Hikari's music career; in the mid-90s his son released two very well-received classical albums, making him possibly the only successful autistic composer. The story of Hikari's success is chronicled in The Music of Light, by Lindsley Cameron.
Several of Oe's works have been made into Japanese movies: A Quiet Life (1995), The Catch (1961), and A False Student (1960).
Books available in English translation:
Lavish Are the Dead - 1957
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids - 1958
Seventeen - 1961
J - 1963
A Personal Matter - 1964
Aghwee the Sky Monster -1964
Hiroshima Notes - 1965
The Silent Cry - 1967
Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness - 1969
The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away - 1972
The Pinch Runner Memorandum - 1976
Catch and Other Stories - 1981
An Echo of Heaven - 1989
A Quiet Life - 1990
Japan, the Ambiguous, and Myself - 1995
The Healing Family - 1996